hong, government, u.s., wednesday

Scores of soldiers 'killed' in Niger base attack   -3%

President Mahamadou Issoufou cuts short trip to Egypt due to 'tragedy' at military camp in Inates, western Niger.

Austrian parliament suspends deportations of asylum seekers in apprenticeships   -22%

Austrian lawmakers on Wednesday passed a bill suspending deportations of asylum seekers while they are carrying out apprenticeships, countering the previous right-wing government's hard line on immigration.

Suicide bomb attack hits outside largest US base in Afghanistan, Bagram   -1%

A powerful blast ripped through a medical facility outside Bagram Air Base, the largest US military installation in Afghanistan, killing two civilians and injuring dozens more.
Read Full Article at RT.com

Global stocks extend gains after Fed keeps rates on hold; oil falls   4%

Global equity markets rose on Wednesday after the Federal Reserve indicated interest rates would remain on hold for some time - a positive for risk assets - while oil prices fell after data showed an unexpected increase in U.S. crude inventories.

An American Prisoner Comes Home From Iran   -45%

Updated at 12 p.m. ET on December 7, 2019.

One family’s ordeal ends today with the release of Xiyue Wang, an American citizen and Princeton doctoral student imprisoned in Iran on vague espionage charges since 2016—at the end of a [dissertation research trip] gone terribly wrong. Iran, which has been wracked by weeks of violent protests and economically crippled under a U.S. sanctions campaign, freed him in exchange for the release of an Iranian scientist held in the United States, with Switzerland acting as the go-between.

For Donald Trump, Wang’s release is a twofold victory: This administration has made a priority of getting U.S. hostages freed from overseas jails, and Wang is the first American citizen freed from Iran since the beginning of the Trump administration. (Nizar Zakka, a Lebanese citizen and U.S. permanent resident, was freed this summer.) The White House is also likely to present Wang’s release as proof that its maximum-pressure campaign against the Islamic Republic is working.

“The highest priority of the United States is the safety and well-being of its citizens,” Trump said in a statement. “Freeing Americans held captive is of vital importance to my Administration, and we will continue to work hard to bring home all our citizens wrongfully held captive overseas.”

Trump last year claimed that he’d gotten 17 people out of imprisonment around the world. “We’re very proud of that record. Very proud,” he said then. “And we have others coming.” In most cases, the U.S. determined the detentions to be unjust and arbitrary—like, for instance, the case of Aya Hijazi, an Egyptian American aid worker who was imprisoned in Egypt in 2014. In 2017, the Trump administration negotiated her release and brought her to the Oval Office to celebrate. Another case—that of the American college student Otto Warmbier—ended tragically; the Trump administration managed to secure his release and that of three others imprisoned in North Korea, but by the time Warmbier got home, he was suffering such serious injuries from his captivity that he died within days. He arrived home in a coma and never woke up.

[Read: The Americans left behind in Iran]

With some exceptions, the U.S. has generally articulated a policy of no exchanges or ransoms for prisoners, for fear of encouraging further hostage-taking. Asked about Americans imprisoned in Iran, U.S. officials have tended to insist that Iran should unconditionally release the prisoners because it’s the right thing to do, and have refused to discuss inducements such as sanctions relief.

Yet some cases get tangled up with other objectives and other countries’ policies. In November, for instance, the U.S. facilitated a deal in which the Afghan government swapped three Taliban prisoners for the freedom of two Western university professors in Taliban captivity since 2016, one of them American. Within weeks, the U.S. formally restarted peace talks with the Taliban after breaking them off in September.

And when Barack Obama’s administration secured the release of six U.S. citizens from Iranian imprisonment in 2016, it was part of a swap for seven Iranians in the United States. Wang will come home to the United States as Masoud Soleimani, an Iranian stem-cell scientist held on sanctions-evasion charges, goes free and heads back to Iran.

Wang’s release still leaves at least five other Americans detained or unaccounted for in Iran, including the businessman Siamak Namazi and his elderly father, Baquer. Siamak Namazi’s brother Babak said in a statement today that he was “absolutely thrilled” for Wang and his family. “At the same time,” he wrote, “I am beyond devastated that a second president has left my ailing father Baquer Namazi and brother Siamak Namazi behind as American hostages in Iran in a second swap deal.” Siamak Namazi, who was detained in October 2015, was not part of the prisoner exchange the Obama administration implemented in January 2016; news of his father’s arrest came the following month.

Robert Levinson, who disappeared from Iran in 2007 while on an unofficial mission for the CIA, has now been gone for more than a decade, and his whereabouts are a mystery. The Iranian government has denied holding him and the last proof of life appeared in a 2010 video, in which, according to the Associated Press, Pashto music could be heard in the background, suggesting that he might have no longer been in Iran but in Afghanistan or Pakistan.

But the Iranian government may have inadvertently offered a new clue recently. In a filing to the United Nations, it referred to an “ongoing case” against him before Iran’s Revolutionary Court. The Trump administration, meanwhile, raised the potential reward for information leading to his whereabouts to a total of $25 million.

[Read: Trying to kill the Iran deal could end up saving it]

This fall, Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif hinted that he was looking for another prisoner exchange, saying he had submitted a list to the U.S. of Iranians he hoped would be freed from American jails. The U.S. side gave no public indication of interest at the time. But in a background phone call with reporters this morning, a senior administration official celebrated Wang’s release and said that the administration would continue to work for the freedom of other American hostages around the world. Wang’s release, the official said, should be viewed by other families as a hopeful sign. “We haven’t forgotten them,” the official said.

Meanwhile, the administration continues to squeeze Iran financially in pursuit of a broad set of objectives that include not only prisoner releases but also a halt to backing regional proxies, an end to ballistic-missile testing, and expanded restrictions on its nuclear program. More recently, as protests have swept the country, the administration has cheered the protesters and condemned the regime’s violent crackdown in response. On Thursday, Brian Hook, the U.S. special representative for Iran, declared that the protests demonstrated the regime’s loss of legitimacy among broad segments of the population. He also indicated that there would be still more pressure, and that the State Department sought to sanction two Iranian prisons he said were guilty of gross human-rights abuses in their detentions of protesters.

It’s unlikely that Wang’s release will change this broader campaign to squeeze the Iranian government, or even that it was intended to, especially while other Americans remain behind bars. And if, in fact, Wang’s release was a response to the administration’s economic pressure campaign, the administration may be encouraged to double down in hopes of getting even more concessions. In congressional testimony earlier this month, family members of some Western hostages called for still more pressure on the regime over their loved ones’ cases. But critics of the overall sanctions program have said that it will only encourage Tehran to lash out more in the region, as it apparently did over the summer with attacks on shipping and the shooting down of a U.S. drone.

[Read: The high-stakes confrontation between Trump and Khamenei]

As for Wang, he will, after three years, finally be reunited with his wife, Hua Qu, and his son, Shaofan, who was only 3 when his father disappeared. At a press conference over the summer, Qu noted that her son was now 6, meaning his father had spent half of the boy’s life behind bars in Tehran’s notorious Evin Prison.

At her Washington, D.C., appearance in August, Qu described the conditions of his confinement, wistfully noting that he was still a “nerd” and that he had asked her to send academic books when she could. “Even now, books, when he gets hold of them, [give a] few moments of comfort amid the horrible conditions of Evin Prison,” she said.

Today she said in a statement, “Our family is complete once again.”

Amazon, Microsoft execs call for closer alliance between Pentagon and big tech   9%

Executives from Amazon and Microsoft criticised their Silicon Valley peers for allegedly failing to supply the most advanced technology to the military, arguing closer collaboration is needed to sustain US dominance over autocratic foreign governments.In comments last weekend at the Reagan National Defense Forum, an annual summit attended by top defence officials and their industry counterparts, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos and Microsoft President Brad Smith pledged to support the Pentagon even in…

The Space Force's moment of truth   13%

The proposed military branch is not just a stunt or a campaign promise. It is a path to a better future.

Infantry soldiers start getting new assault rifles after 15-year wait   6%

Indian soldiers deployed on the borders with Pakistan and China are now finally getting new assault rifles almost 15 years after the Army first demanded them. These US-origin rifles with “a longer kill range” are meant only for frontline soldiers, with the bulk of the 1.3-million force slated to get Russian Kalashnikov rifles at a later stage.

Letters to the Editor: Are asylum seekers using children to game the U.S. immigration system?   -30%

Asylum seekers are sending their children alone into the U.S., where they will remain at least for now. This is not how the system should work.

Germany: Bundeswehr to employ military rabbis to combat anti-Semitism   -5%

The German military is set to employ rabbis after allowing Christian pastoral care for decades. The move is expected to help combat anti-Semitism in the armed forces.

China to reform military ranks promotion system   1%

BEIJING, December 9 (ChinaMil) -- China’ Central Military Commission recently issued a Notice on Adjusting the Policy Concerning the Promotion of Military Ranks of Officers at and above the Corps Level (hereinafter referred to as the “Notice”). This is an important measure taken by the Chinese military to promote its professionalized reform of military officers and advance its military human resources system.

The Notice emphasizes that the Chinese military will adjust the military officers’ promotion policy that is based on the military ranks system and takes into account the needs of officers with various ranks and categories. Starting with the reform of the ranks promotion system for commanding officers at and above the corps level, the Chinese military will streamline the corresponding relationship between military ranks and positions at various levels, so as to set an example and provide practical support for the revision and implementation of the Law on Officers in Active Service.

The Notice provides specific regulations on the target groups of military ranks adjustment, methods of military ranks promotion and adjustment, rules for starting time of military ranks, and other matters. It also clarifies stipulations on approval authority, handling procedures, ceremonies for military ranks promotion, etc.

According to the Notice, based on the adjustment of the policy concerning the promotion of military ranks of officers at and above the corps level, the military will accelerate the adjustment of policies related to the promotion of military ranks of officers at and below the division level and specialized technical officers.

Beijing says Taiwans anti-infiltration bill causing alarm for investors   25%

A proposed anti-infiltration bill in Taiwan which the government says is needed to combat Beijing’s influence is spreading alarm among the Taiwanese business community on the Chinese mainland, Beijing said on Wednesday.The legislation is part of a years-long effort to combat what many in Taiwan see as the mainland’s efforts to influence its politics and the democratic process. Beijing claims Taiwan as its territory, to be brought under control by force if necessary.Taiwan invites US military…

New rule to curb varsity autonomy, claim West Bengal teachers' bodies   -8%

Two university teachers’ bodies of West Bengal on Wednesday termed a new rule tabled in the Assembly to check direct communications between the chancellor and the varsities as “dangerous” for the autonomy of the educational institutes.

UPDATE 2-Nestle sells U.S. ice cream brands to joint venture Froneri in $4 bln deal  

Nestle SA has agreed to sell its U.S. ice cream business to Froneri in a deal valued at $4 billion, moving control of brands including Häagen-Dazs to a joint venture the Swiss group set up in 2016.

Telefonica Deutschland picks Nokia and Huawei for 5G network  

Telefonica Deutschland picked Nokia of Finland and China's Huawei [HWT.UL] on Wednesday to build its 5G network, seeking to get work moving even though Germany has yet to finalize security rules governing equipment suppliers.

Hong Kong market dips while China stocks eke out small gains, as investors remain in observation mode   -5%

Hong Kong stocks dipped while China-listed shares edged up, amid another day of cautious trading on Tuesday as China and the US continue working on an initial trade deal.The Hang Seng Index dropped 0.2 per cent to 26,436.62. In China, markets reversed early losses and eked out small gains by the close. The Shanghai Composite Index ended 0.1 per cent, or 2.84 points, higher at 2,917.32. The Shenzhen Component Index added 0.4 per cent, while the ChiNext Index rose 0.8 per cent.“Pretty much…

Chinese peacekeeper dies of Plasmodium falciparum malaria   -3%

Fu Sen, a Chinese peacekeeper who served in the United Nations peacekeeping mission from 2017 to 2018 in South Sudan, died aged 23 on Tuesday, media reported on Friday.

Fu was born in east China's Jiangsu Province and died on Tuesday morning at 7:59 a.m. local time.

Fu was infected with Plasmodium falciparum malaria during his peacekeeping mission and received treatment for the disease for over 400 days in China.

From September 2017 to September 2018, he was a member of the medical unit of the eighth batch of China's peacekeeping forces in South Sudan.

China has dispatched over 40,000 personnel to 24 UN peacekeeping operations since 1990, with 13 Chinese peacekeepers sacrificing their lives in the frontline of operations.

More than 2,500 Chinese peacekeepers are currently on duty in seven mission areas and the UN headquarters. UN has spoken highly of the Chinese peacekeepers as "a key factor" in peacekeeping.

China is the largest contributor of peacekeepers among the five permanent members of the UN Security Council.

Last December, China's share of the UN peacekeeping budget was raised from 10.24 percent to 15.22 percent, making it the second largest contributor only after the United States.

Beijings signal to Hong Kong: learn from Macau, and it starts with having patriots in charge  

Beijing expects Hong Kong to do more to emulate Macau even as it accepts that not every lesson from the former Portuguese colony can work in the city, analysts said on Tuesday.They were commenting on remarks by National People’s Congress chairman Li Zhanshu who earlier in the day had described Macau as a role model for implementing the “one country, two systems” principle that also applies in Hong Kong.Analysts said the signal from Beijing was that while the central government appreciated the…

Fed leaves low rates alone and foresees no moves in 2020  

The Federal Reserve left its benchmark interest rate alone Wednesday and signaled that it expects to keep low rates unchanged through next year. The Fed's decision follows three rate cuts … Click to Continue »

Can Laos profit from China rail link despite being US$1.5 billion in debt?   2%

An ambitious high-speed electrified railway track running through Laos and connecting Kunming in China with northeastern Thailand is now 78 per cent complete, according to reports. All the bridges, tunnels and other structures have been built; what remains is to lay the track and install signalling and other mechanics necessary for operations. The first trains are expected to be running around two years from now. Formally announced in 2015, the railway is part of China’s Belt and Road…

China achieves regular birth defect treatment for military children   -6%

By Su Xingwei and Jiao Lipeng

BEIJING, Dec. 9 (ChinaMil) -- China has achieved regular treatment of birth defects and deformities for military children since November 2019, according to the Health Bureau of the Logistic Support Department under China’s Central Military Commission (CMC).

Now, military children afflicted with any of the 131 listed diseases can choose from any of the 27 designated military medical institutions for free treatment. Undoubtedly, this policy will help improve the health conditions of military children with birth defects and promote the military families’ well-being.

To form and improve full-process prenatal care and childbirth service system, the health authorities of Chinese military have organized its 10 hospitals to provide periodic treatment for more than 1,300 military children who were afflicted with seven common diseases since 2015, effectively preventing and reducing the disability rate of newborns with congenital abnormalities. With the implementation of the “two-child policy” in 2016, the Chinese military, considering the increase of pregnant women with advanced maternal age in the army and the distinctiveness of military profession, began to change its efforts to treat military children’s birth defects and deformities from a preferential policy to universal policy, and gradually achieved regular treatment of congenital organ defects and dysmelia for military children.

It is said that the regular birth defect treatment policy covers children diagnosed by military or civilian hospitals at grade 3 or above to “have organ and limb deformities due to birth defects,” whose parents (either fathers or mothers) are serving in the army, are retired military officers, non-commissioned officers or those who were transformed into civilian personnel during the period of the military reform.


Western democracy and the Chinese model have one thing in common: both are flawed   15%

The Hong Kong protests have lasted for six months now. There are various ways to interpret the protests, depending on one’s position. Some scholars argue that this is an ideological battle between democracy and authoritarianism, while others believe that, owing to the distinct identity of Hongkongers, the protests have evolved into a call for separatism and a pushback on Beijing’s grandest task: unification of China.While there is something to be said for both views, it seems a more profound…

How to protect airplanes from hackers  

U.S., Russian leaders face off over election interference — Encryption fight turns one-sided

Duterte to lift martial law in southern Philippines as security forces lower terror threat  

President Rodrigo Duterte has decided to end more than two years of martial law in the south of Philippines after government forces weakened Islamic militant groups there with the capture and killing of their leaders, his spokesman said.Duterte placed the Mindanao region under martial law after hundreds of local militants aligned with Islamic State and backed by foreign fighters occupied buildings, a commercial district and communities in Marawi city starting May 23, 2017, in the worst security…

Attack on U.S. base in Afghanistan leaves 2 dead, at least 70 wounded   -16%

Suicide bombers struck the main U.S. military base in Afghanistan on Wednesday, killing two people and injuring scores of others in a major attack that could derail plans to revive peace talks between the United States and the Taliban.

Taliban Assault On Key U.S.Base In Afghanistan Kills Two, Wounds Dozens   -18%

Two Taliban suicide car-bomb blasts killed one person and wounded more than 90 others, including five Georgian soldiers, on December 11 on the main U.S. military base of Bagram in Afghanistan, local and NATO officials said.

US Sanctions on China over Hong Kong, Xinjiang Will Push Beijing Further Away from Washington   -4%

Lack of historical understanding and depth of local issues underline current US policy.  Op/Ed by Chris Devonshire-Ellis  The US is drawing the ire of Beijing this past week by enabling legislation that would push the US President, Donald Trump, into imposing sanctions on specific Chinese leaders, and upon trade with Hong Kong should certain conditions[.....]

The post US Sanctions on China over Hong Kong, Xinjiang Will Push Beijing Further Away from Washington appeared first on China Briefing News.

In a first, U.S. starts pushing Central American families seeking asylum to Guatemala   21%

For the first time, U.S. officials have begun pushing even asylum-seeking families who are not from Guatemala to that country, the Los Angeles Times has learned. The Trump administration had said a new policy effectively ending asylum at the U.S. southern border and removing asylum seekers to Central America would initially only be applied to single adults.

Chinas skyscraper developers have to pay for their vanity as the frenzy to scale new heights lead to record-breaking vacancies   28%

China’s skyscrapers are making headlines for snaring annual global awards during the nation’s economic boom. As the nation’s economic growth cools and vacancy rate soars, owners are starting to pay the price for their building frenzy and vanity. Nine super structures in the mainland were recognised among the best tall buildings by the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat, adding to the seven awards won last year. The Chicago-based council, which announced the results last week, will…

China launches PR blitz to combat foreign interference in Hong Kong  

China’s diplomats are waging an increasingly assertive public relations campaign to counter growing international criticism over its handling of the unrest in Hong Kong, now in its seventh month.Diplomatic and political pundits believe the heightened activism among Chinese envoys underlines an overriding priority to prevent further internationalisation of what Beijing insists is an internal issue, in the wake of Washington’s support for the city’s anti-government protesters.Already buffeted by…

Chinese troops head to Pakistan for joint drills   -10%

Chinese J-10 fighter jets demonstrate an aerobatic performance during a military parade to mark Pakistan National Day in Islamabad, Pakistan, Saturday, March 23, 2019. Photo: IC

China is sending its troops to Pakistan for a month-long joint military exercise, a move that will boost the two countries' military cooperation and capability to jointly deal with terrorist threats including those targeting joint projects with China, experts said on Monday.

A Chinese unit from a special forces brigade of the People's Liberation Army Xinjiang Military Region departed from their base camp Saturday morning and began mobilizing in Pakistan for the "Warrior VII" joint exercise, using vehicles and aerial transportation, according to a statement released on Monday by China's Ministry of National Defense.

This is the seventh "Warrior" series exercise between the two countries' special forces, the ministry said, noting that the drills will focus on deepening cooperation and communication, learning from each other's combat experience and boosting the ability to deal with security threats and launch diversified missions.

A new exercise subject, joint defense of key facilities, will be added to the drills, as troops will engage in counter-terrorism in mountainous areas, according to the statement.

Li Wei, a counter-terrorism expert at the China Institute of Contemporary International Relations in Beijing, told the Global Times on Monday that key facilities might include iconic government and civilian buildings and major projects under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, as these could be targets for terrorists, based on past events.

Construction sites, mines, harbors and highways might also be vulnerable to terrorist attacks, Li said.

The joint exercise will help to strengthen weak spots and find ways to prevent attacks in the first place, Li said.

The drills will feature live ammunition that will put both commanders' and soldiers' capabilities to the test, said Yang Lei, commander of the Chinese unit, in the defense ministry statement, noting that the event will enrich military training cooperation and deepen the traditional friendship between the Chinese and Pakistani armies.

Chinese and Pakistani air forces wrapped up the half-month-long Shaheen VIII joint exercises, featuring some of the two countries' top aircraft, in northwestern China in August. The two countries will also hold a joint naval exercise in Pakistani waters in January.


Hong Kong police end university siege   -15%

The standoff at Hong Kong Polytechnic University was one of the most violent episodes in six months of protests. But the end of the siege saw activists vow to hold protests and strikes in the coming days.

Mother, 2 children found dead in Montreal's east end   -5%

A 42-year-old woman and her two young boys, ages two and four, were found dead Wednesday in a home in the east-end Montreal neighbourhood of Pointe-aux-Trembles.

China finds African swine fever in wild boar in Shaanxi   -3%

China's agriculture ministry said on Wednesday that African swine fever had been detected in three dead wild boars in northwestern Shaanxi province.

New Jersey mayor says attackers targeted Jewish market   -3%

The man and woman who stormed a Jewish market in a deadly shooting in Jersey City clearly targeted the place, the mayor said Wednesday, amid growing fears the bloodshed was … Click to Continue »

Citizenship (Amendment) Bill will be challenged in court in near future: Abhishek Singhvi   5%

The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill will be challenged in court in the near future as it is "highly suspect" in terms of constitutionality, senior Congress leader Abhishek Singhvi said on Wednesday.

Berlin Zoo reveals names of panda twins   12%

Berlin Zoo has ignored calls to name its panda cubs Hong and Kong in support of ongoing protests. Instead, its first panda cubs have been given more traditional names.

China Rolls-Out New Measures for Tax Credit Restoration, Effective January 1, 2020   39%

Eligible corporate taxpayers in China will be able to restore their tax credit rating as tax authorities launch new measures effective from January 2020.

The post China Rolls-Out New Measures for Tax Credit Restoration, Effective January 1, 2020 appeared first on China Briefing News.